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Questions from a newbie

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by jasoneflanagan, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. jasoneflanagan

    jasoneflanagan In the Brooder

    Nov 17, 2008
    Northeast Georgia
    Hi, everyone. My name is Jason, and I live on a small farm in northeast Georgia with my wife and four kids, ages 9, 7, 3, and 1.

    I'm buying chickens for the first time this coming spring, and I while I've read a lot about raising chickens for eggs, I have a couple of basic questions that I'm hoping you kind folks can help me with.

    I am raising my flock for eggs only. The birds are going to be pets for my family, so we don't plan on eating them even after they stop producing.

    I'm looking at buying 9 hens as chicks, and I have decided that at least some of these birds will be Speckled Sussex. I would like to try at least one other breed as well just to have variety and to start figuring out which breeds I like the best.

    Question 1: Do certain breeds not get along well with others? Is there a nice heirloom breed that would get along well with Speckled Sussex? Or should I just stick to the one breed?

    Question 2: Should I get a rooster? I plan on setting up a pen where they'll be protected from hawks, foxes, coyotes, dogs, etc., but they will have the run of the yard at times. Two of my kids are young (1 and almost 3), and I have concerns about a rooster being aggressive, but I also recognize that a rooster can help protect the hens and make them feel safe.

    Question 3: Here's a question that will make me seem really naive. How do you keep a rooster from fertilizing the eggs? Shouldn't the eggs we eat be unfertilized? When I crack it open, will there be anything obviously different between a fertilized egg and an unfertilized one?

    Thanks for helping me out with these questions. I'm looking forward to learning more from all of you.

    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  2. jossanne

    jossanne Songster

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    Welcome to BYC, and don't worry about asking questions. We've all been right where you're at sometime. This is a great place to hang out and learn.

    Most breeds get along okay with others if they're raised together from chicks. There will always be more dominant and less dominant birds in a flock, and they'll work out the pecking order. My favorites in my flock are my barred rocks (BR), as far as gentleness goes, but I've never had a BR rooster. I hear there are a lot of nice ones out there. I also really like my Easter eggers (EE) (hatcheries call them ameraucanas), as they have been calm, gentle birds. Their bonus is they lay green eggs. I have had an EE rooster, and he was beautiful and calm.

    It doesn't make a difference if the eggs are fertilized. If they haven't been incubated, they look and taste the same as an unfertilized egg. There is no difference in the nutritional value either. There will be no embryo growth in the egg if they are gathered regularly and refrigerated.
  3. GardienneWings

    GardienneWings Songster 9 Years

    Hi Jason & welcome!

    I have Dominiques as one of my breeds and LOVE them. They are quiet and sensible and the roos we have had have never been at all agressive towards anything but another roo after "his" hens. Doms can easily become very tame and mine will come running all the way to the house when I call them.

    As jossanne answered, it won't matter at all if you have a roo and the eggs get fertilized as long as you collect them and they don't get sat on. It takes a couple days of sitting for there to be any real developement in the egg and hens only sit when they get broody. At least with a roo when one of your hens does go broody you will have fertilized eggs you can let her sit on. It's a shame to "waste" a broody hen [​IMG]

    Cochins are also a very quiet breed and most are very agreeable to be handled. My 12 yr old son has a couple he carries around under one arm while he is SUPPOSE to be doing his chores. but beware, someone will try and sell you a cochin just because the bird has a couple feathers on it's legs.

    I have pics of Our Doms and Cochins (as well as our other fowl) on our website www.gardienne-wings.com if you would like to have a look.

    Good Luck!

  4. ZepChick

    ZepChick Songster

    Apr 27, 2008
    coos bay OR
    OK, I have to voice my different opinion. We have 18 pullets and 1 roo, and if he gets at them (he now has a bachelor pad) it can look a little gruesome mating)...also, he sometimes will try to challenge us humans as alpha roo (he is a big EE roo). Lastly, we can tell the difference if our eggs are fertilized or not. Not the taste, but you can see the little "bullseye" in the egg, and I think we all have a mental block with it. We also collect our eggs daily, and the hens lay in or around the nest boxes in the coop.

    One roo bonus: he does get time with the ladies each day, and he is an excellent watchman, he will make a little weird noise and they will all gather around him or run into the coop if he senses danger. Good luck, chickens are definitely addictive~ Kim
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    We have Speckled Sussex, and they get along with everyone. We got 30 chicks of various types and raised them together, and haven't had any problems. I'd say that as long as they were reasonably close in size, you'll be fine.

    SS are a great choice. Mine are very friendly and silly. Watch out, or they'll steal the food from your plate if you're having a picnic. My very favorite chickens are Delawares, a heritage breed.

    I'm not as fond of my Wyandottes of various colors. Mine are stand-offish, but your mileage may vary.


    eta: SS eggs are a lovely pinkish-cream, and look absolutely beautiful mixed in with eggs from other brown egg layers. We sell eggs, and get nice prices mostly because of the beauty of a carton of brown, pink, blue and green eggs.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  6. jossanne

    jossanne Songster

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    Well, as far as the bullseye goes in a fertilized egg...

    I've been getting store bought eggs lately that look like they have a bullseye, and so do my home eggs that I'm pretty sure are not being fertilized. I've been watching in the hen house, and every time I see our teenage cockerel trying to do his thing, he's been rebuffed and chased away...

    Maybe I can't tell a bullseye from a regular light spot on a yolk, though.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Whether they get along is as much individual temperament as breed, other than the feistier breeds obviously are less likely to get along with others (esp. with the more pacifist couch-potato breeds). Sussex are generally sort of middle of the road easygoing -- I call mine the Quarter Horses of chicken breeds <g> -- so really any typical layer breed should mix fine.

    May as well get a variety, it's interesting and it also makes it easier to tell them apart [​IMG] (You might THINK SS would be easy to tell apart b/c of the individual markings, but with feathers coming in and going out, it's not really so easy...)

    Question 3: Here's a question that will make me seem really naive. How do you keep a rooster from fertilizing the eggs? Shouldn't the eggs we eat be unfertilized? When I crack it open, will there be anything obviously different between a fertilized egg and an unfertilized one?

    No. Heck some people pay extra for fertilized eggs to eat (go figure). You will not know any different unless you know how to recognize the 'bullseye' that signals fertilization... assuming you collect eggs once or twice a day and refrigerate them, you are not going to be finding chicks in there or anything. And you can BELIEVE ME when I say this, b/c I originally was strongly opposed to having a rooster because of the mental 'ick' factor of fertilized eggs, and am now eating them [​IMG] and it is TOTALLY no big deal after all, honest!

    Good luck, have fun,

  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks &amp; Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Pat is totally right about the fertlized eggs. If you just crack the eggs open and cook as you normally would you won't be able to tell the difference.
    I know all my eggs are fertlized, but I don't sit and stare at them after I crack them open into a bowl.
    The ick factor is easy to get over, especially when you love your roosters as much as I do.
  9. AWChickens

    AWChickens Songster

    Sep 16, 2008
    Bloomington, IN
    I started with Barred Rock, Rhode Island, and Buff Orpington hens, and no rooster. We added a purely ornamental rooster since I didn't intend to hatch eggs at first (don't ask me how mnay are in the new incubator now [​IMG] ), we just wanted someone to corral the girls. It has made my life so much easier, he keeps the girls in line and I soon as I wanted them in at the end of the day, he does all the herding now instead of me running around! He also chases them to safety if the neighbors dog comes over. My nephew is 3, and loves Elvis the rooster- he carries him around under one arm while I'm doing chores. Poor Elvis is so patient! If you start with them as chicks especially and handle them a rooster can be great fun, plus they watch the girls when you aren't around.
  10. LilPeeps

    LilPeeps Songster

    Jan 13, 2007
    SE Mass

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